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Dogs bite late
Perreault bags winner with 22 ticks left
12/28/06 - by Mike Lee

The holiday home stand came to a merciful end on Thursday, ending with a 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on a late Yannic Perreault goal. The loss was also the second consecutive to a division foe, dropping the Sharks to 7-7 against Pacific Division opponents. After battling back from a 2-0 deficit, San Jose failed to generate any offensive punch in the 3rd period.

Similar to their 4-3 loss to Anaheim on Tuesday, San Jose couldn¢t generate any scoring chances in the final period. Perreault took advantage of a botched defensive play by Scott Hannan, which resulted in Hannan tackling his own goaltender, Vesa Toskala, as the Coyotes forward wrapped the puck around the right post from behind the net with 21 seconds remaining in regulation.

Toskala was pinned under Hannan in the crease and couldn¢t get a pad positioned in time to stop Perreault.

"We just kept working all night," Perreault said. "I got a rebound, and I had a bit of time, so I went around the net. ... It's huge for us (to win late). Lately, it's been the opposite for us. We've been losing in the last minute, or the last few seconds."

The loss was a deflating end to what looked like a stirring comeback after Phoenix scored the first two goals of the game on power play chances. Oleg Saprykin scored the games opening tally after Jonathan Cheechoo was sent off for tripping midway through the 1st period.

"I have to give our team credit for competing, but we have a lot of passengers (who) don't realize the bus has already left," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "They're important people who aren't competing very hard, and when you aren't competing very hard, you're setting a poor example for the rest of the team."

Shane Doan would add another goal on the extra-man advantage just 3 minutes into the middle period. Doan punched in a rebound from 10 feet out after Toskala got caught out of the net.

San Jose would tie the game at 10:31 on a wild series in front of the Phoenix net. Joe Pavelski had a chance to punch the puck into an empty net, but his shot sailed wide. Pavelski was able to grab his rebound behind the net, and feed Joe Thornton outside the right post. Thornton snapped a shot from a bad angle, bouncing the puck off Curtis Joseph¢s pad.

The Sharks would convert on the power play themselves with 18 seconds remaining in the period when Marc-Edouard Vlassic swept a deflection past Joseph to tie the game at 2-2. Mark Smith tried jamming the puck past Joseph from the right post, but the puck trickled through the crease, where Vlassic and Dave Scatchard tangled as they both reached for the puck.

"Against one of the best teams in the league, you need to do a lot of things right, and you need to be a little lucky," Phoenix head coach Wayne Gretzky said. "Our guys played hard, our power play was excellent ... and Curtis was outstanding."

The Sharks have 48 hours to work on a response, as the two teams lock up again on Saturday night on the back half of a home-and-home series.

"For us to come into their building and get two points is a huge achievement," Joseph said. "We're starting to play well, especially considering how bad we were at the beginning of the year. We're getting back to being a better team, one with a chance at the playoffs."

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1 2 3 T
PHO 1 1 1 3
SJ 0 2 0 2
1st period - 1, PHO, Saprykin 9 (Michalek, Comrie), 12:52, (pp).
2nd period - 2, PHO, Doan 7 (Saprykin, Michalek), 2:48, (pp). 3, SJ, Thornton 10 (Pavelski, Brown), 10:31. 4, SJ, Vlassic 2 (Smith, Thornton), 19:42, (pp).
3rd period - 5, PHO, Perreault 11 (Ballard, Doan), 19:19.
1st period - Sjostrom, PHO (interference), 5:43; Cheechoo, SJ (tripping), 11:42.
2nd period - Grier, SJ (hooking), 2:20; Michalek, PHO (high sticking), 12:10; Morris, PHO (interference), 17:55.
3rd period - Zigomanis, PHO (tripping), 5:50; Smith, SJ (hooking), 7:52.
  Shots Saves
PHO - Joseph2927
SJ - Toskala 23 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
PHO 9 8 6 23
SJ 6 11 12 29
Power Play Conversion
PHO 2 of 4
SJ 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Yanic Perreault
Oleg Saprykin
Zbynek Michalek
Referees: Mike Leggo, Justin StPierre. Linesmen: Shane Heyer, Brad Lazarowich.

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